World Jazz

World Jazz – A short definition


Could you give us a short definition of the term “world jazz”?

Our response:

World music – world jazz

In the mid 60s the term “world music” was coined to denote the manifold relationships between rock, pop, jazz and the different forms of folkloric music from all over the world. World music stood for a certain openness in style and mind, but also for the respect towards other cultures. In recent years the music industry has coined the term “world jazz”. It denotes the musical discourse of jazz musicians with cultural traditions of different regions of the world. The main ingredient in “world jazz” remains improvisation as is usual in jazz; “world” influences often comprise sound or instrument specifics. Also, melodic themes, harmonic systems, rhythmic models of non-western musical cultures influenced musicians, inspired them to travel along new roads on which their discourse with other cultures offered them (even if this may sound like a paradox) a way to express themselves. “World jazz”, thus, is a phenomenon of a globalized world in which information about other cultures are as easy to obtain as it is to meet musicians from the world over. The term “world jazz”, thus, has many implications. It can denote European jazz projects which make use of Indian or African traditions; it can denote dialog projects of musicians from different cultural spheres; it can denote African music in Paris or New York entering into a musical discourse with jazz and other influences from their new adopted homeland. “World jazz”, then, is no clearly defined style, but denotes open ears as they are inherent in jazz, a music, after all, which identified as a hybrid art from its beginnings, a music for which its own tradition has always been just as important as the creative inclusion of new elements.

(Wolfram Knauer)